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Can You Tile on Dry Wall?

Yes, you can tile on drywall, but you also have to assess the area that you are installing the tiles because areas that are frequently exposed to high moisture will require a different approach than areas that experience low humidity.

Also, the products that you use will be a bit different and that is if you plan to achieve good results.

Therefore, to properly tile on drywall you have to first prepare your wall.

Wall Preparation

Wall preparation is in two stages, the first stage is pretty basic where you will have to remove all the foreign objects that might have stuck to the wall such as the hooks, nails, screws, old wallpaper, and the loose plaster.

You will then have to ensure that the wall is smooth and has a uniform level by filling up all the cracks and holes.

If the wall is dusty, you can use the vacuum cleaner to suck it out, then wipe it clean.

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QUICK TIP: If you’ve got other surfaces that you are thinking of tiling, check out my articles “Can you tile over wallpaper?” and “Can you tile over wood?”

The above are procedures of old drywall, but if you are to prepare new drywall, you will start by sealing the wall with a skim coat then give it enough time to dry.

Then using medium-grit sandpaper you will proceed to achieve a uniform surface but don’t make it too smooth such that the tile adhesive will lack something to stick onto.

And just like on the old wall, you will vacuum and using a damp cloth you will clean the wall, then give the wall enough time to dry before proceeding with the process of tile installation.  

Products to be used when installing tiles in high humidity areas

The first product that you should be on the lookout for when planning to install tiles on drywall but in areas that are exposed to high moisture is the Cement-Based adhesives and grout.

The latter has been established to be resistant to high humidity.

In the home improvement stores, you will find the cementitious thinset and grout, that are packaged in dry form and you only get to add water when you want to use it.

During use, the addition of water initiates a chemical process that ends up with the creation of hard cement, keep in mind, therefore, that the longer it will take to harden the cement, the stronger and more effective the results will be.

Installing tiles in areas that feature low humidity is quite different when compared to installing tiles in areas with high humidity because a plastic cover is normally used to help retain moisture and the tiles are also misted.

Retaining water in the thinset and grout ensures that they end up being strong thus durable.

The premixed adhesive and grout

Well, this product is not recommended for use in areas with high humidity or on the floors.

Also, the constitution of the premixed adhesive and grout varies, as there are some that contain latex; and don’t expect to find cement in this mix.

NOTE: If you’d like more detail on different types of grout, I’ve got information about this in my article here.

And the reason why you cannot use this product in areas with high humidity is because when used under normal humid conditions, the premixed adhesive and grout takes longer to dry.

So when used in areas with high humidity drying up takes longer to the extent of giving mold and mildew a chance to thrive right under the tiles.

And remember if you will settle with this product then you will not grout the tiles at least until the adhesive is dry, most importantly is that the premixed grout will also take a lot of time to dry.

Epoxy adhesives and grout

Comes packed in a kit that contains resin, filler (silica), and hardener.

All the above are then mixed but with precision, don’t fret though because epoxy components are usually premeasured to quicken the process.

So, unlike the premixed adhesive and grout, the product works exceptionally well in areas that experience high humidity, as it easily bonds with just about anything.

So if you settle on this product to use in the installation of drywall then you will have to be quick to clean up because once it dries up, it will be permanent but when cured it tends to resist water infiltration better than the other types of grout.

How to tile over drywall

The first step would be to purchase and assemble all the tools and products that you will use to install tiles on the drywall.

For example, you will need a primer, adhesive, the putty knife among other tools.

The second step is to ensure that the wall is even by filling in the cracks and holes.

The third step is the application of primer onto the wall; ensure to roll it out evenly on the surface so that your tiles don’t assume an awkward position.

Apply the thinset mortar onto the sheetrock using a trowel, spreading it uniformly but in small sections to avoid a situation where it dries up before you can lay down the pieces of tiles.

When the adhesive is laid, you can now press the tiles into place but be sure to use the tile spacers to keep each of the pieces evenly separate from one another.

The last stage is to grout and clean, where you will use grout to fill in the spaces between the tiles, there are no limits to the amount of grout that you can apply, so be sure to spread some very generous amount then get a wet sponge to get rid of the excess grout.

When the grout has finally dried you can use a wet sponge to also clean the tiles as you apply the final touches in your newly installed tiles.


Tile installation on drywall is a possibility, however, there are, some special considerations to consider if you plan on installing tiles in high moisture areas that have been discussed in this excerpt.

Also, ensure to follow the wall preparation procedures if you don’t want your efforts to go to waste or to do a repeat job.

Better yet is that you will be able to move faster and avoid cases of using sandpaper later to achieve a smooth finish.